Family-Friendly ConnectiCon

My son and I enjoying the Con. Image By Rebecca Angel.

I have been attending ConnectiCon for over ten years now. When I first went, I enjoyed it, but felt that it was geared for people in their teens and twenties (I was cusping thirty then.) I had young geeky children, but I didn’t feel that this convention was for them. Besides, I liked my weekend away.

However, my kids would hear all about my adventures at this mystical world of geek fandom, and couldn’t wait to attend. I started taking my older nephew. When my daughter turned thirteen, I took her with me. Then my son was allowed to join in the nerdery and fun. And that’s when I started noticing families with young kids attending the Con. The con noticed this too and added some programming for kids. This year, there was a whole track just for the younger set. I love that.

Here are some pics of geeky families enjoying themselves and passing down the fun of fandom:

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Share Pictures With Donate a Photo, Help Worthy Causes

Image: Donate A Photo

Sharing photos online has become the norm for most of us, and now when you share those photos you can also help a worthy cause with the Donate A Photo app.

It’s all thanks to the folks at Johnson & Johnson who are donating $1 to a worthy cause for every photo you share using the app. Which cause? Well, that’s up to you with a selection of ways that you can help people when you share your pictures.

One of the possible recipients is Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, and the app will tell you that when you choose them for your donation, that you’re helping to give a baby in the NICU a blanket. You can also choose Save the Children, the Family Equality Council, or any one of the worthy causes they’ve partnered with through the program.

You don’t pay a single thing to download the app as it’s entirely free. Just download the app for iOS or Android, then when you take your pictures, share them through the app. It will even post to your Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram account so you can share your pictures, and the app, with your friends and followers.

Next time you share a photo, you could be doing more help than you know. #DonateAPhoto

Social Media Etiquette and Copyright

Pinterest is taking off in a big way. The virtual pin board site lets you visually organize favorite projects, wish lists, tips, recipes, and books. Or pretty pictures like this shot of a gerber daisy that my son recently took. With Pinterest, you can use a special little bookmarklet to add the image to one of your boards. Other people might see the picture on Pinterest and think it’s lovely and RE-pin it to one of their boards. There is some really cool stuff showing up on Pinterest.

The GeekMoms are loving Pinterest. (And yes, of course we have a Downton Abbey board!)

But here’s the rub. While Pinterest allows users to share some great inspirational images, it’s also opening up a can of copyright worms that’s working its way across social media. I noticed several months ago that many of the images on my Pinterest feed were also showing up on Facebook pages that I followed. But instead of sharing the image as a link that would take viewers to the original post or even to the pin board they’d found it on, people were uploading the image directly to their Facebook photo albums. On Pinterest, folks are sharing images without maintaining the link to the original source.

Hello, copyright infringement!

As an author, I’m acutely aware of copyright issues. My work has been plagiarized and turned in as student work, and it’s shown up on websites – copied verbatim – under another person’s byline. Those incidents notwithstanding, most of us were taught in school that it’s not cool to plagiarize the written word. But photos are another matter entirely. Who didn’t cut National Geographic images from magazines to enhance a geography report? While our teachers recognized that using an author’s words as our own was unfair use, utilizing a photographer’s work without proper credit didn’t give them pause.

But those were just simple book reports. Now we have the Internet, where we encounter countless images every day and with a simple cut and paste, can share those great images with our friends and followers. Easy, peasy.

But wait! Don’t you think the photographer who took that great shot of Niagra Falls would want credit for his work? Don’t you think the blogger who took the time to take pictures and write out instructions for how to make Princess Leia cupcakes would want you to visit her site for the details?

Think of it this way. What if you knit a sweater and I took it and gave it to my mom and told her I made it? Even though I suck at knitting? That would be unfair, yes? Or what if you brought your killer vegetarian chili to a potluck at my place and I told everyone that I’d made it? So not cool, right?

This has been a sore spot with me as I watch some really fabulous ideas appear on my Facebook and Pinterest feeds without the artist receiving credit. I’ve mentioned my concerns to some Facebook page owners, but they’re just not getting it. Others are still posting photos to their own albums in what I think is an effort to drive traffic to their pages, adding a cursory link to the original photo. Sure, people can now locate the origin of the photo or idea, but the person who posts in this manner is still giving the impression that the photo is theirs. If you go to my Facebook page and click on ‘photos’ you’ll see this across the top of the page: Attainable Sustainable’s Photos. Does that lead you to believe those photos are mine? And that I have the right to post them? I’m betting so.

It turns out I’m not the only one who’s taking issue with all of this uncredited sharing. Link with Love is working to encourage people to share photos responsibly. While they don’t address the Facebook issue at all (that’s my particular gripe) they’re suggesting a neighborhood watch type plan to protect  intellectual property. Their Dear Pinterest post has some simple suggestions for pinning kindly. Retain links. Post credits. Link with love, they say.

Photographer Sean Locke takes a stronger stand, questioning whether Pinterest itself is actually infringing upon artists’ copyright.

It sure sounds like copying people’s photographs without authorization would be copyright infringment [sic].  Yet, Pinterest seems to be encouraging people to scour the web, pinning (copying to their servers) artwork created by others: “Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web.”

In a follow up post, he discusses the idea of fair use. Is it fair use to share a photographer’s “all rights reserved” image from Flickr? I’m going with no. In this case, the photographer has explicitly spelled out the fact that s/he is reserving all rights, right there in black and white.

Here at GeekMom we have this discussion a lot. We like our posts to have great photos. But at the same time, we’ve passed up some really fun stories simply because we didn’t receive a response to our request for permission to use a photo. We can’t just grab an image we love and use it. We use images that are in the public domain, creative commons, or images that we have permission to post.

Being cognizant of the fact that photos on the web are someone’s intellectual property and not a free for all is the first step toward making sure that artists are credited for their work. I’m no lawyer and who knows if Pinterest will face legal issues for copyright infringement down the road, but it seems like there are a few simple steps that pinners can take to reduce the frustration of artists.

1. Always pin from an original source. This way, it’s easy enough for people to get to the original content, which is especially important if there is a recipe or instructions to go with an image.

2. For goodness sake, don’t copy the text of an entire post and share it along with the pinned image. Again with the copyright infringement! Plus, it makes my feed really hard to read.

3. A site or blog that features a “pin it” button welcomes your pinning. Artists websites that feature a portfolio, probably not so much.

4. If you’re an artist or blogger who’s concerned about having your stuff out there on the web sans credit, consider using a watermark on your images as I’ve done with the gerber daisy photo.

Artist Kal Barteski offers even more suggestions. I truly hope you’ll go have a look and join me in making sure that the hard work of artists and bloggers you love is credited to the right person. I also invite you to pin this post, using the gerber daisy image (which, incidentally, my son has given me permission to use) with a note about pinning responsibly.

Daisy photo: Evan Bordessa

Rainbow text: Link with Love, used with permission


Wicked Fun with the Kodak All-in-One ESP C310 and Design Gallery Software DVDs

Kodak Harry Potter graphics softwareYou’re likely already read the printing adventures by our own GeekMoms over the course of the week. I am admittedly a bit of a Harry Potter fangirl, so this project seemed like a no-brainer for me. Kodak Design Gallery Software featuring Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows™ boasted all sorts of wicked good fun, and seeing the faces of my familiar and favorite characters come to life in a variety of creative (and with a decidedly Potterian aesthetic) was equally exciting.

But let me start at the beginning.

Because any good project is only as good as our printer. For reference, we had an HP all-in-one before Kodak sent the ESP C310 my way. And we were generally happy with it. At least, marginally so. I mean, printers are only as good as the ink you use, right? And the last time we went and bought ink (right before a hurried convention appearance where I was supposed to be printing out little cards for promotion) we just about broke bank. Not to mention that the printer was notoriously finicky with my MacBook Pro.

Well, I’m happy to report that there were no such problems with the Kodak All-in-One ESP C310. Setup was a snap, and after a restart and a short calibration period, we were connected to the printer via wireless network. Wireless printing is one of those things I marvel at, still. Geek that I am I can’t help but feel like printing without a cord in the middle is just a little magic.

Add to that that the price of ink for the ESP C310 is significantly lower than our previous printer, and that the print quality is great… well, I’m a happy camper, let’s just say.

Now. On to the projects. You’ve seen this week that there are many possibilities when it comes to projects with the Kodak Design Gallery Software featuring Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows™. That’s no surprise. I love the many symbols and designs, and they really all do evoke a sense of the world of Harry Potter, right down to the menus and elements in the program.

A screen shot of the project in progress.

However, I am biased. Sure, there are all sorts of camps when it comes to the Harry Potter oeuvre. But personally there is no home like the Burrow, and no hero like Ron Weasley. Okay so he’s a little tempestuous at times. And the whole fight between Ron and Harry really dragged out in Book Four, to the point where I wanted to knock both their skulls together. But when it comes down to it, Weasley really is my king. He’s the most likely character to make me laugh, cry, and giggle. Yes, admittedly I have a thing for ginger guys. But that’s hardly the point!

While there were a few odd bugs with the Macintosh version — switching between windows caused the program to blank out until I clicked on “Home” and it does not fill the whole screen — the tweenager in me was still quite thrilled to print a project featuring my most favorite wizard. And if I were so inclined I could also emblazon his face upon banners, doorhangers, and calendars, all as easily as if I had a wand of my own.

Just don’t call me Lavender.

At any rate! If you, too, would like to experience a great printer with some fun software, remember that Kodak and GeekMom are giving away the last and final bundle this week. All you’ve got to do is comment on Monday’s post to enter.

What are you waiting for? Appararate over there already.

GeekMom and Kodak Bring You Some Magical Giveaways (Now Ended)

In four short weeks, Hogwarts fans will be lining up to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, the last movie in the series based on the great adventure novels of J. K. Rowling, which opens July 15. And in honor of the event, GeekMom has joined with Kodak to give you a chance to show off your magical celebration of this momentous occasion.  For the next month, we’ll be giving away four packages that include the Kodak ESP C310 All-in-One Printer and the Kodak Design Gallery Software featuring Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows™ Part 2! (See entry information below…)

The Kodak Design Gallery Software lets you make your own fun Harry Potter printables using over 300 images and graphic elements. You can use it to make invitations, banners, collector cards, door hangers, posters, and lots more cool printable projects using images from the movies. It also includes a collection of Harry Potter crests, borders, patterns, icons, swatches, and phrases. Using the unique customization tools, you can add your own photos, type in your own text, draw, color, rotate and scale the images to create your own personalized designs. Or select a pre-designed template, add any special touches you want, and just print!

The Kodak ESP C310 All-in-One Printer that will be included with all four giveaways is a wireless printer with an easy Wi-Fi setup. And it’s affordable — it’s priced at $99, and it uses KODAK 30 Series Ink Cartridges with the lowest ink replacement cost in the industry. Like all KODAK All-in-One Printers, the C310 Printer delivers crisp, sharp text documents, brilliant graphics, and KODAK Lab-Quality Photos that dry instantly and last a lifetime.

On Wednesday we’ll be sharing some of the designs made by GeekMom Jenny Williams and her family using the Kodak Design Gallery Software and the Kodak ESP C310 All-in-One Printer. In the meantime, enter to win a Kodak Design Gallery Software featuring Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows™ Part 2 DVD and a Kodak ESP C310 All-in-One Printer of your very own by leaving a comment at the bottom of this post, telling us your plans for the culmination of the great Harry Potter movie series next month! You have until midnight Friday night to enter this week’s drawing. And we’ll have a drawing each week, so you have four chances to win!

We’d also love to see your Harry Potter-related photos and images, so put a link to them in your comment, or just add them to the GeekMom Flickr group! We’ll feature the best in future posts.

And be sure to visit for more Harry Potter goodness over the coming weeks. Thanks to Kodak for inviting GeekMom readers to be a part of their celebration!

(UPDATE: We’ll be giving away four Kodak packages, each with the Kodak Design Gallery Software featuring Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows™ Part 2 DVD and the Kodak ESP C310 All-in-One Printer!)